Remarks by Ambassador Sands at the 2018 Independence Day Celebrations on June 21 at Rydhave
Ministers, Ambassadors, distinguished colleagues, and friends— welcome.
What a pleasure it is to have you here as we gather to celebrate my nation’s 242nd birthday.
This is my first American Independence Day in Denmark and it is both my privilege and my pleasure to welcome you all to Rydhave.
I know many of you have spent significant time in the United States and I hope that you had the opportunity to experience the Fourth of July in a truly American way, complete with cookouts, fireworks and parades. Independence Day is a contender for my favorite holiday.
I look forward to it as a time to be with family and friends and to celebrate our national traditions; but I cherish it for what it represents: the birth of the first nation on earth to be founded solely upon ideals and principles.
As I stand here today alongside so many esteemed European allies and friends, I recall the words of another great European who perfectly captured the momentous events we celebrate today. Following the defeat of British imperial forces at Yorktown by our Continental Army, Minutemen and French regulars, the Marquis de Lafayette, declared, “Humanity has won its battle. Liberty now has a country.” He was correct then, and his words ring true centuries later.
I mention Lafayette because he was an embodiment of how much stronger America and Europe are when we stand together. Right behind you is Rydhave, a stunning and tangible example of Danish history, now under our beloved stars and stripes. 75 years ago the Nazi swastika flew over this home. The reason it no longer does is because together we toppled fascism and restored peace and the rule of law to this continent. With this came great prosperity via the Marshall Plan, stability a shared commitment to bettering the lives of many, and a stronger bond between our peoples.
We are incredibly fortunate. We live in peace and enjoy freedoms that many do not. We are the beneficiaries of those who came before us: those who paid the ultimate price so that we could live in prosperity and liberty and so that their descendants could be scientists, artists, entrepreneurs, and everything in between. When I reflect on the accomplishments of my countrymen and the founding fathers, I feel a great sense of patriotism. I feel a deep and abiding pride in being part of a nation that honors liberty, supports its allies, lessens the suffering of the afflicted, and helps bring peace and stability to those unable to secure their own freedom.
America could not do what we do without stalwart allies such as Denmark. From Afghanistan to Syria to security in the Baltic skies, Danes have stood shoulder to shoulder with us and risen to the challenges that define our time. Together, we and our allies from around the globe have embraced the great responsibilities that come with great power. Together, we have faced many trials, and emerged unbowed.
America’s founding fathers knew that in order to be free, we must remain vigilant. Together, we must rise to meet every challenge and threat to our freedom and prosperity. For centuries America has served as a beacon of freedom and a City Upon the Hill.
However, as President Reagan reminded us, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
As long as nations such as ours stand together upon a bedrock of shared cultural values, respect for the rule of law, a desire for peace, and a yearning for freedom, I am reassured.
We are more powerful together, and our mutual strength allows us to protect our people and our principles, and assist those less fortunate.
I cannot imagine a better ally nor a better friend to America than Denmark. Thank you for joining us today to celebrate our independence. Happy Fourth of July!